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North and Northridge battle in State Tournament.
J. C. Tilton

It would take 5 sets for a winner to be determined in the 1:15 bracket of the State Volleyball Tournament - Brookville section. Both teams came into the game with similar records. Although Northridge had a strong 2nd half to their season. A young North team was trying to finish strong as a springboard for next season.

In their first two sets, North spotted their opponent an early lead. Northridge was sloppy in their first match with several dropped balls and poor hits. North caught up and passed Northridge for a 25-17 victory. The second set was close. North tied at 11, but allowed their opponent to pull ahead. They tied again at 17 and then at 22. The dogfight came to a close when Northridge bulled ahead for a narrow 25-23 win.

The third set saw North going ahead early. But then falling behind, only to rally and tie at 18. Northridge now had the advantage as they won 25-21. The 4th set was all TCN as the Panthers quickly gained an advantage and pulled ahead to win 25-18. It was even at two matches apiece.

In the last set North seemed to self destruct. Bad serves by North helped give Northridge an early lead. Coach Aukerman took a timeout to stop the hemorrhaging. But the team did not respond, allowing themselves to fall behind 3-8. Maybe the Panthers had nothing left for this marathon match. North had two bad serves back to back and tried to rally from there. But it was too big a deficit and North's mini rally fell short as they dropped 8-15.

Coach Aukerman was asked to comment after the game, “After a good practice on Friday, we were looking for good things. With both teams having homecoming this week, that shouldn't have been a factor in the match, but distractions sometimes take a toll. I felt like my team at times played with little emotion as we seemed to play well in spurts. Northridge wanted to win the game more than we did, as we struggled to slow down their hitters. We just didn't get the job done as we struggled with confidence with our hitting, passing, setting, and serving. I felt like the team was frustrated with our effort and nobody stepped up to lead us”.

He then looked back on the season, “We finished the season 10-13 overall and 4-7 in the league. I know the girls were disappointed with outcome this year. We have to remember that we were a young team this year with only losing 1 senior for next year. The Junior Varsity, 8th grade, and 7th grade all had successful / winning seasons, so the future looks bright for TCN volleyball”.

North also finished up their league schedule this week. They went up against a strong Bethel team. They were able to pull off a win in the first set and were sniffing for an upset. But Bethel recomposed themselves and won the next three sets for the victory: 20-25, 25-15, 25-15, 25-18. Coach Aukerman commented after the game, “We were also looking to regroup from losing two league games the week before. The first game, we played well and it looked like we were going to pull off an upset. Bethel took advantage of our problems by running a faster offense than game one which we had problems defending. Their hitters started to hit the ball really well and we just couldn't slow them down.”

North then closed out their regular season against Ansonia and their vaunted front line - with 3 girls 6 feet tall or better. It was senior night where North's sole senior Mallory Creech was honored. Coach Aukerman would comment after the game, “We tried double blocking them in the middle, and that worked a couple of times, but it wasn't enough. Serving errors and hitting errors once again hurt us and kept us from competing against them.” Me: It is just tough to give up that much height. Ansonia would win, but North gave a good accounting of themselves: 25-20, 25-21, 25-14. Comments:

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